Is an annulment a Catholic form of divorce? No. It is a declaration of nullity.
Someone told me I needed an annulment. What is it? An annulment is a declaration of the Church, after a thorough investigation, that a valid marriage never existed.
So what constitutes marriage? According to the Church, marriage is the intimate, exclusive, indissoluble covenant or partnership of life and love entered by man and woman at the design of the Creator for the purpose of their own good and the procreation and upbringing of children. When validly contracted between two baptized people, it is a sacrament. (CCC 1601)
What makes a marriage valid? In order for marriage to be validly established, bride and groom must: - Have no impediments to marriage (e.g. being married to someone else) - Follow the proper form of the sacrament - Have the proper capacity to exchange consent and do so freely and unconditionally - Consent to what the Church intends by marriage, that is: - fidelity, - indissolubility and - openness to children.
Is this just a Catholic thing? No. For millennia, civilizations have held to this view of marriage. Those societies who rejected it have crumbled from within. If a society does not embrace this understanding of marriage, history tells us it will experience several hardships, one of which is divorce. Other hardships might include the unwillingness on the part of men to care for women and the children they bore, unwed mothers, fatherless children, adultery, and increase in promiscuity, breakdown of the family, increased need for social services, etc.
Give me an example of how someone could make an invalid consent to marriage. There are many elements that can invalidate the consent to marriage such as: - Being hampered psychologically, or offering the consent under fear or duress. - Abuse or addiction of some kind that would hinder you from freely consenting. - Lack of knowledge of certain habits of the partner that, if known prior to marriage, one of the partners would never have given consent to the marriage. - Having the intent to be unfaithful.
Are my children illegitimate? No. Legitimacy is a legal term that refers to whether or not you know who the father is. In the eyes of God, there is no such thing as an illegitimate child because God is the Father of us all.
What are the steps in the annulment process?
Step 1 Complete the "Preliminary Questionnaire for Marriage Case" that you can pick up from Father Sean or Father Rick and send to the Metropolitan Tribunal with a check for $25.00 (an initial processing fee).
Step 2 Based on the answers to this questionnaire, typically two types of annulments will be pursued, either: A. Lack of Form process or B. Formal Petition
Lack of Form Process This form is for Catholics who have married outside the Church without permission. They need an annulment because they did not follow the proper form of the sacrament. If you fall under this group, you must
A. Complete a second set of questions (3 pages) and
B. Return it to St. Frances Cabrini for your advocate's signature.
C. It must include an additional $25.00 and three documents: 1. Recent updated baptismal certificate (6 mos. or less) 2. Certified copy of your marriage certificate 3. Certified copy of your divorce/dissolution
This process usually takes 4-8 weeks to process.
Formal Petition This form is for Catholics married in the Church, any baptized non-Catholics, or any non-baptized persons. If you fall under this group, you must:
A. Fill out the second set of questions (21 pages); pages 8-16 are detailed questions that should be answered with great detail, if possible.
B. Return to St. Frances Cabrini for the advocate’s signature.
C. You must include 3 documents: 1. Recent updated baptismal certificate (6 mos. Or less). 2. Certified copy of marriage certificate. 3. Certified copy of divorce/dissolution.
D. Include list of witnesses.
E. After the petition is accepted, an initial $50 processing fee is required then a $450 amount (can be paid over 12 months) to complete the petition. This process usually takes 9 months to 1 ˝ years. This fee only partially covers the cost incurred by the Tribunal to process the annulment. The remaining amount is paid on your behalf by either the parish or the archdiocese.
There is a remote possibility that if the parties to the marriage in question were not baptized at the time of the marriage, that marriage could be dissolved under the grounds of either the Petrine or Pauline Privilege. If this is the case, please call Sherwood Owens for further clarification of the privileges.
If you have any questions, please call us at 303-979-7688.